The Salient Features of Administrative Adoption
By Atty. Jonathan de Guzman.
On 13 March 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed RA 11222, ‘an act allowing the rectification of simulated birth records and prescribing administrative adoption proceedings for the purpose.’
Essentially, the law grants amnesty to all those involved with the simulation of birth certification – i.e. the falsifying of the civil registry to make it appear that a child was born to someone other than its biological mother – and provides for rectification of the records of those whose birth certificate was simulated before the enactment of the law. It will excuse from civil, criminal, and administrative liability those who simulated the birth certificate of a child prior to the effectivity of the Act, provided the petition for administrative adoption AND application to rectify the birth certificate are filed within ten years of the effectivity of the Act.
According to its principal sponsor and co-author, Senator Risa Hontiveros, it is hoped that this law will encourage more Filipino families to adopt children. Previously, many were wary of doing this for varying reasons. Some were fearful of the cost; others were afraid that once a child was reported as abandoned and free for adoption, social workers would simply take it away.
However, some would-be-adopters fail to appreciate the legal consequences of adopting a child without going through proper proceedings, as the ‘adoptee’ might not be entitled to any share in the inheritance should the ‘adopter’ die, or vice versa. They might also be considered as strangers in any insurance claim if the ‘adoptee’ is not affiliated with the ‘adopter’ by blood. These are only some of the repercussions of not going through the proper procedure.
This law is intended to afford an opportunity of adoption to those who genuinely care for the well-being of a child and to expedite the adoption process for those would-be-parents who have been taking care of a potential adoptee for a considerable time.
It should be kept in mind that most adoption cases require certification from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that the child is legally available for adoption, except in cases where the adoptee has already attained the age of majority. Certification is also not needed when the adopter is within the 4th civil degree from the adopter – for example, when the adopter is an uncle or aunt.
The administrative adoption proceeding essentially has the same requirements as the domestic adoption, in addition to which the adopter has to show proof that the adoptee was living with him/her for at least three (3) years before the law took effect. The advantage of the administrative adoption proceeding is its simplicity, in that it does not entail tedious court proceedings.
What must the petition contain? What documents need to be attached?
The petition must contain the facts surrounding the simulation of the birth of the child and the reason why it is in the best interest of the child to proceed with the administrative adoption. The following documents must also be attached:
Copy of the simulated birth certificate;
Affidavit by the third person admitting the simulation of birth, if such simulation was done by a third person;
Certification by the Barangay Captain where the child is residing that the adoptee has been living with the adopter for at least three (3) years before the law has taken effect;
Affidavit of two (2) disinterested person residing in the same barangay where the adoptee is residing to attest to the fact that the adoptee has been living with the adopter for at least three (3) years before the law has taken effect;
Certificate to declare the child available for adoption (unless it falls under the exception as mentioned above); and
The photograph of the adoptee with the adopter taken at least three (3) months before filing the petition.
What is the procedure for the administrative adoption?
The petition must be filed before the Office of the Social Welfare and Development Officer (SWDO) of the place where the child is residing. If the petition is not sufficient, it will be returned stating the deficiency. If the petition is sufficient in form, the documents shall be forwarded to the Regional Director. Basically, in order for the petition to be sufficient in form and in substance, the facts surrounding the simulation of birth must be present AND all the documents must be presented before the SWDO.
The director will then send it to the Department Secretary to decide and act upon the petition. If the Director finds that the adoption is in the best interest of the child, the order of adoption shall be issued and it will retroact to the date that it was filed before the SWDO.
What effect will it have if the administrative adoption is granted?
The simulated record of birth shall be cancelled
Issuance of rectified birth record with the names of the biological parents or issuance of foundling certificate
Issuance of new birth certificate.
The cancellation and the issuance of the birth certificate shall all be recorded in the Local Civil Registry where the adoptee is residing.
Grounds for rescission
The adoptee, with the assistance of SWDO/DSWD or by him/herself, can file the petition to rescind the adoption. The grounds for rescission are the same as with the Domestic Adoption with an additional catch-all provision for rescission.
Repeated physical or verbal maltreatment
Attempt on the life of the adoptee
Sexual assault or violence
Abandonment and failure to comply with parental obligations(those under the family code such as providing for support)
- Other acts that are detrimental to the psychological and emotional development of the adoptee. (emphasis supplied)
The process for rescission shall have the same process for filing the petition for administrative adoption.
Successive governments have been consistent in their role of protecting the welfare of children. The Family Code always favors legitimacy over illegitimacy, for example where it provides that children conceived and born during the subsistence of a marriage shall be presumed legitimate (Article 164 ). Now, the new, simplified, and therefore less costly, administrative adoption process eliminates the nuances of prolonged litigation in order to secure adoption papers. And though it is limited in scope, since this law only covers those whose birth certificate was simulated, it provides an opportunity for more children to be given the status and benefits of legally adopted sons and daughters.Atty. Jonathan de Guzman. April 30, 2019. LINK: The Simulated Birth Rectification Act. RA11222.
BEHIND THE LENS…
Behind the glamour, the excitement and the grandeur of ‘showbiz’ lies another reality confronting those who work in it. For the entertainment world is composed not just of the ‘talents’ you see on the screen or stage; there are also those who work out of sight, behind the scenes, helping to deliver quality entertainment. And although both this group of people and the celebrities we know and (sometimes!) love are part of the same show or project, they have varying rights and statuses under the law.
In the landmark case of Jose Y. Sonza vs. ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, G.R. No. 138051. June 10, 2004, the Supreme Court declared that not every service rendered for a fee creates an employer-employee relationship. “To hold that every person who renders services to another for a fee is an employee – to give meaning to the security of tenure clause – will lead to absurd results.”
To determine whether a person rendering services to another is an employee the most common test is the so called “Four-fold Test”, to wit:
Right to hire or to the selection and engagement of the employee;
Payment of wages and salaries for services;
Power of dismissal or the power to impose disciplinary actions; and
Power to control the employee with respect to the means and methods by which the work is to be accomplished. This is known as the “Control test”.
The most compelling of the four in determining whether a talent is an employee or an independent contractor is the control test. “The more supervision and control the hirer exercises, the more likely the worker is deemed an employee. The converse holds true as well – the less control the hirer exercises, the more likely the worker is considered an independent contractor.”
In any event the method of selecting and engaging a talent or an individual does not conclusively determine his status. All the circumstances of the relationship, with the control test being the most important element, must be considered. The unique skills, talent and celebrity status not possessed by ordinary employees, is a circumstance indicative, but not conclusive, of an independent contractual relationship.
Hence, a talent or a celebrity is an independent contractor offering not mere labor but his/her unique skills to entertain his audience.
THE TEAM BEHIND THE SCENES…
As to the members of the production team or those working behind the scenes, instructive is the case of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation vs. Nazareno et. al. G.R. No. 164156., September 26, 2006. The High Court elucidated that “when the work done is an integral part of the regular business of the employer and when the worker, relative to the employer, does not furnish an independent business or professional service, such work is a regular employment of such employee and not an independent contractor.”
The said rule is likewise in conjunction with the four-fold test. In this case, the Honorable Supreme Court ruled that the employees were selected through ABS-CBN’s personnel department without regard to their special talent or unique skills; they were paid their wages and they did not have the power to bargain for a higher “talent fee”; their continued employment was subject to the will of their employer; and they were under the constant control of their supervisors. Thus, the presence of these factors taken together with the very definition of regular employees under the Labor Code, bolstered the status of Nazareno, et al. as regular employees.
The difference in the employment status of talents/celebrities from the people working behind the scenes is crucial in determining the law applicable to their situation.
The Law on Contracts particularly governs the relationship between the talent and the one engaging their services. The provisions of the engagement contracts shall as long as not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public policy, and public order shall be complied with. Any issue or dispute arising from such engagement shall be cognizable by the Regular Courts.
On the other hand, an employee’s relationship with their employer is governed by the Labor Code as amended, Implementing Rules issued by the Department of Labor and other pertinent government agencies, as well as special laws in relation to labor. Employees are also covered by the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with employers. Any dispute in relation to the employee and employer relationship shall be cognizable by the Labor Arbiter, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and other quasi-judicial and quasi-administrative agencies.
THE CLOSING CREDITS…
In drafting the pertinent contracts, be it for an independent contractor or for a regular employee, the parties should be mindful of the applicable provisions of the law on Contracts, that“[t]he contracting parties may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as they may deem convenient, provided they are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy.” and the basic precept under the Constitution – “The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all. It shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also participate in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by law. The State shall promote the principle of shared responsibility between workers and employers and the preferential use of voluntary modes in settling disputes, including conciliation, and shall enforce their mutual compliance therewith to foster industrial peace. The State shall regulate the relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns to investments, and to expansion and growth.”
Mc Antony M. Liggayu
Photography by Jakob Owens @ unsplash